University College Cork Students’ Union (UCCSU) today occupied the historic UCC quad in protest at campus rent increases, vowing not to end their protest until the three per cent hike is reversed.
The students are also calling for a rent freeze to be implemented for campus accommodation for the next three years.
UCC is one of a number of Irish universities that has recently announced intentions to hike rent prices for students. University College Dublin, Dublin City University, the University of Limerick and Maynooth University have confirmed rent increases for next year, while Trinity has not ruled out an increase.
In a press statement, UCCSU president Ben Dunlea said: “Today, UCC Students’ Union and members of the UCC student body occupied the iconic UCC Quad in protest of the rent increase announced on UCC owned accommodation. These students are demanding that the 3% rent increase be reversed and that a rent freeze on all UCC owned accommodation be put in place for a period of 3 years.”
The protestors “do not intend on ceasing their occupation of the Quad until these demands are met”, Dunlea said. “UCC’s decision to increase the rent in all of it’s [sic] accommodation complexes by 3% would mean that UCC Accommodation has increased by 19% in three years.”
This, he said, was “a rate of increase that UCC Students’ Union simply cannot stand-by and support”.
In a statement released last week, UCC said of the rent increases: “Due to major refurbishing work, the rise in security and maintenance costs and the investment required to provide additional accommodation for students, Campus Accommodation UCC has decided to raise its campus accommodation rates by 3% for 2020/21. Income generated by Campus Accommodation is exclusively used by the company to meet such costs.”
“UCC is extremely conscious of the financial challenges faced by students and has decided to review the applicability of the 2020/21 increase for students in receipt of student assistance funding”, the statement said.
The college also said that “any changes to Campus Accommodation rates are considered together with the student representatives on the Campus Accommodation Board”.
In 2019, changes to the Residential Tenancies Act meant rent increases for student accommodation were capped at four per cent.